Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
- Deuteronomy 28:47-48
Ironically, The first mention of Joy in the Bible is in a word of condemnation!
In the Book of Deuteronomy chapters 27-28, Moses lays out the blessings and curses that would come on the Israelites depending on their faith and behaviour. Marvellous blessing if their heart and actions were right before the Lord, of riches, great crops, children and great esteem in the eyes of other nations. On the other hand, and from where we get our key verse, the curses of God that He will ensure comes upon them should they decide to leave Him and create their own path. One of those behaviours was that they do the work of the Lord with Joy and Gladness.
When we recall those two stalwart sisters of faith, Mary and Martha, Mary was joyful that her Lord was present, yet Martha was adding up all the work she was ‘doing for the Lord’ and grumbling that there was no help forthcoming. (Luke 10:38-4). At that time they were both doing the Lord’s work, but only one with joy.
Jesus was far less condemnatory to Martha than God would have been to the Israelites in our key scripture. What was the difference? Martha’s heart was right and she had made a simple error of judgement, similar to those we have all made at some time.
Joy is the second Fruit of the Spirit. Strong’s Concordance states that Joy is a gladness or a festival, which provides us with an idea of how much joy we are to possess in our day-to-day activities. We are to act like our life is a festival every normal day. Of course, there are those times of sorrow or pain when joy seems to be silenced within for a time.
Today, as it was in those days, Joy was a necessary element of the spirit of each person involved in either the Old or New Testament ministries. Despite the hardships of both ministries — and much of the work of the Old Testament priesthood would have been hard. When we read the judgments and other issues outlined in Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy, each one requiring active ministry, their job would have been demanding. We, in this era, are to be thankful, and displaying joy in our actions, speech and countenance in the Lord’s work…and everything we do is for the Lord’s work.
Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the joy I experience in you and in your service. I am sorry for your sake that the first mention of Joy in your Word is in judgement. Please help me to keep joy as a fundamental element of my inner being when I am working for you, and to remind myself that your work is never a chore, but a joy.